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Learning-Aligned Employment Program (LAEP)

LAEP logostudent doing research in a lab

The Learning-Aligned Employment Program (LAEP) offers students paid research positions that may relate to their major, career goals, or the exploration of career options. LAEP is funded by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) to support students with financial need. Participants in this program will be hired as Research Assistants and will be paid hourly wages to conduct research with UC San Diego faculty.

Program and Application Dates

2023-2024 Program Dates

  • January 8, 2024 - June 14, 2024

2023-2024 Application Dates

  • Closed


  • Wage: $20/Hour, up to $3,600 per quarter, depending on a student’s financial need and award eligibility.
  • Time: Work 10-15 hours/week
  • Mentored research: LAEP allows a participating student to conduct research as a Research Assistant that relates to the student’s area of study, career objective, or the exploration of career objectives. Research is not limited to scientific research and can take place outside of an academic discipline.
  • Conference travel funding: By participating in LAEP, you are eligible to apply for URH's conference travel funding.


Eligible students must meet the following criteria:

  • At least half-time enrollment California resident
  • Must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Be in good academic standing with your school and major
  • Eligibility to work in the United States

Priority will be given to eligible students who are first-generation college students, current/former foster youth, homeless, or at risk of being homeless. Further priority will be given to eligible students majoring in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline.

Before Applying

Find a faculty mentor

  • Don't wait! Students should find a mentor and discuss a potential research project before adding that faculty member's name and email to the LAEP application.
  • Students are responsible for finding and contacting their own mentor, but the LAEP coordinator can help if you're having a hard time. For tips, review our page on how to find a mentor. Start looking for a mentor as you’re filling out the general application—be proactive! 

Expectations of faculty mentor - When contacting/meeting with potential mentors, be sure to share this list with them so they know the expectations before agreeing to be your mentor.

  • Mentor and oversee the student's research/artistic endeavor/public service project.
  • Commit resources towards the training of the student.
  • Personally meet with the student to periodically check on their progress or appoint someone in my group to do so.
  • Ensure that the student completes all required training and certifications prior to starting any research, if necessary.

Application Process

There are 4 items required to apply to LAEP:

1. Application

  • General Application and Undergraduate Application (When you finish the general application, you will be automatically directed to complete the undergraduate application).
  • LAEP Application (After you finish the previous two applications, you will be given the opportunity to choose to complete the LAEP application.)

2. Short-answer essay questions (as part of the LAEP application)

  • Personal Statement (500 words or fewer)
    • Tell us about yourself and briefly describe any previous experience with research, jobs, extracurricular activities, or community service that has prepared you for this position.
    • Please describe your educational, career, and life goals and how this position may prepare you for meaningful work.
    • Building on your values, identities, and previous experiences, how will you contribute to creating a diverse, inclusive, and supportive environment in the Learning Aligned Employment Program?
  • Research Project
    • Project title
    • Please describe the research you would like to conduct in terms that can be understood by a non-expert audience.
  • Why Research? (200 words or fewer)
    • Why do you want to do research? Please include any information that might aid the selection committee in evaluating your interest in and potential for doing research.

3. Copies of transcripts

  • If you are an incoming transfer student (You do not have a UC San Diego GPA):
    • A copy of your unofficial transcript(s) from previous school(s) (community colleges, other universities, etc.)
  • If you have attended UC San Diego for at least 1 quarter:
    • If you completed coursework prior to attending UC San Diego (e.g., transfer credits), they will appear on your UC San Diego transcript. You do not need to upload transfer transcripts.

4. Name and contact information for mentor

  • Once you save your faculty mentor's information in the application, an email is automatically sent to that person asking them to agree a number of statements with regards to their support to mentor you in LAEP. (NOT a formal letter of recommendation.)
  • The faculty mentor needs to complete this section before the application deadline.
Text illustration APPLY

Apply to LAEP

The application for Winter/Spring LAEP is now closed.

Start General Application


Undergraduate Research Logo

Contact: Kirsten Kung, PhD